Aren’t there a few things you should be doing other than reading this article right now?
You know. The annoying tasks that you need to get off your plate but seem to keep piling up? Paying the bills, doing chores, calling that client. The list may seem endless. Or better yet, aren’t there a few dreams you could be working toward right now?
You know the ones.
The dreams that haunt you, that keep coming back into the forefront of your mind when you have a moment to breathe… The dreams that you always feel so excited and alive just thinking about. The ones that you yearn for, that felt so right that you knew that only you could make something happen about it.
If only you could get to a place where you were able to finally take the actual steps needed to achieve the dream, to make it a reality. If only, you weren’t so busy. If only you had more money. More time. More resources. More knowledge. Those sorts of dreams are for other people, anyway, the lucky ones…
This is procrastination.
Whether you are looking at your situation in terms of the little things, or the big goals… procrastination is your worst enemy. It is the killer of dreams. The silencer of change, and the ender of goals, before they really even have a chance to begin.
It is the constant, subtle lie that you fight to protect yourself from. The whisper that tells you that you cannot rest easy, but would have you be restless for your entire existence. Not to mention, it makes each day more unsatisfying, more stressful, and less productive. Literally sucking vital life force and enjoyment out of the small, passing moments.
But what is this enemy, really?
Some might chalk it up to laziness. Some to a sense of apathy, unimportance, or perhaps waiting for a better time. The right time. Sounds smart enough, right? Practical? Sure. So sit down and enjoy your Netflix programming. Sleep in another hour or two. And you can get to that assignment at the end of the weekend.
Sounds nice, right? Feels good, sure.
Procrastination, in those moments where you buckle and agree with it, is your friend, you say. It wants me to feel warm and fuzzy, you say. It wants me to relax. What I really wanted to do isn’t all that important anyway.
So go ahead and do whatever sounded better than doing that boring assignment, that unpleasant chore, that nerve-wracking phone call. Stay in the safety of your job, the one you never wanted in the first place. You’ll get in great physical health next year, when things calm down. And there is no need to budget for that life-changing trip you always wanted to take. There will always be time later for that.
The truth is, procrastination is another form of anxiety in disguise. Procrastination wants you to stay small, unhappy, and afraid.
We know that as humans we generally tend to follow the pain and pleasure principle, which means that most of us go our whole lives avoiding pain and maximizing our pleasure responses. If you allow them to be, those pleasurable moments where you give in to those temptations, those voices of justification, will be in control.
We don’t need to be super-freaky driven and uber-hard on ourselves.
We cant be robots after all. But we do need to get our priorities in check. Is it more pleasurable to you to keep putting off what you know you want to do deep down inside? What you know would make you feel fulfilled, at peace, and even truly happy? Or is it painful to know that it is quite possible that you won’t make any of your dreams a reality this year, or next year, or even the year after that?
We must learn to master this principle, of pain and pleasure, so that we can come face-to-face with what we really want, and take the steps to make it happen, even if its just to get the monkey of a chore off of our back.
But, you don’t feel motivated.
I hear this so often. I really do. I even told myself for years that what I needed was motivation. So I looked for it. I read books. Articles just like this one. I watched inspirational movies. I surrounded myself with affirmations. I went to therapy. I even tried to think myself into a place where I would unblock my creative power.
In my mind, this was the only way that I would ever get past this big, bad nightmare. The one where I am not accomplishing my dreams. The one where I am stagnant, not reaching my potential. But ultimately it wasn’t enough, and eventually I began to realize how unhappy I was. How anxious it made me feel to let my life pass by and my dreams fall by the wayside. To keep playing small.
I began to wonder if motivation, this thing that we search for and strive for and yearn for, could be part of a big farce.
Think about it. If we put the amount of energy we spend trying to motivate ourselves, waiting for the right time, the right circumstances, the right feeling… Think about what would happen if we put that energy into taking the small, mundane, unpleasant, annoying, intimidating, and frankly painful steps it takes to truly get anywhere when it comes to doing anything.
“Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do” -Bruce Lee.
It all comes down to ACTION STEPS. YOU MUST DO.
Even if it is about non-doing, like creating a meditation practice. If you are trying to get out of depression, or stuckness. If you want to pursue a new job skill, or education path. If you are working on getting better about swearing, or trying to learn a new language! Even if you just want to be kinder to yourself and others. It doesn’t matter what it is that you are trying to change, or accomplish.
Failing to plan is planning to fail! It really is that simple. Instead of waiting for and chasing the motivation, expect to act. The action will change the outcome, and ultimately your reality.
So what is the ultimate reality when you decide that motivation isn’t important?
When you decide to stop allowing yourself to be fooled by that old feeling, and start taking small steps, begrudgingly, toward making your dreams a reality.
Change starts to happen. Growth takes place. You are on your path, showing up, taking accountability for your time here on this planet. And happiness ultimately follows. Trust me, it doesn’t feel like it right now. But those painful actions are exactly what you want, exactly what you need, and it is very likely that taking them would allow you to live up to your true self, your true potential, and become the best human that you can be.
This doesn’t mean that you aren’t kind to yourself. It means that you can sleep at night, knowing, that you have done your best. Whatever that may be, each and every day. And that is a day worth celebrating.